the Tankdrum has several predecessors… below is a brief history in chronological order with some videos of different instruments that have helped shape and inspire the Tankdrum…
The tongue drum is one of the worlds oldest known instruments. They have been a part of African, Asian, and South American cultures for thousands of years. The only instrument older is the human voice itself. Tongue drums had a wide variety of functions within these cultures, from story telling to beating out war cries over long distances. These drums were first made from hollowed out trees which were struck with sticks to create tones. It is thought the earliest of the tongue drums were made to produce very low tones which traveled great distances when played.
In some African cultures, a tongue drum language developed. This language was based on different pitches, intensities, and variations of sounds.
The tongue drum is in the musical instrument category of idiophones. An idiophone is any rigid solid bodied instrument that vibrates completely when played.The tongue drum may also be considered a lamellaphone since the tongues vibrate at one end and are connected to a base at the other end.
Over time, these drums have developed into the modern versions found today, and now include fine tuning with intervals and specific pitches. Tongue drums are also being made out of many different materials including the original wood versions, steel, and even cast bronze.Well crafted tongue drums feature a primal melodic sound found in no other instrument and remain an acoustic marvel.
The Kalimba is a”thumb piano” common throughout Africa… The proper name for this group of instruments is lamellophones… Lamellophones are instruments which have little tines, or “lamellae”, which are played by plucking. Unlike stringed instruments or air-column instruments like flutes, the overtones of a plucked lamella are inharmonic (i.e., the overtones and the fundamental vibration do not harmonize), giving the kalimba a rather odd sound.
The Steel pan (Pan) (often referred to as Steeldrums), is a percussion instrument made from a 55 gallon drum. This musical instrument was invented in Trinidad & Tobago during the 1930s in the peroid around the time of the 2nd world war. It wasn’t necessarily invented by any one person, it evolved slowly in Trinidad by people using old oil cans and biscuit tins as drums. Slowly, the can would become so dented that multiple tones could be discerned. The first person to make a chromatic steel drum out of the modern 55-gallon oil drum was Ellie Mannette. Ellie currently resides in the US and his company is the leading manufacturer of Steel Pan drums in the United States.
The Tambiro is a tongue drum made from cutting slits on the side of a small freon container, invented by Fella Vega…
The Hang was developed by the instrument builders of PANArt, Felix Rohner and Sabina Scherer. It was the result of many years of research on the steelpan and the study of the diverse collection of instruments from around the world: Gong, Gamelan, Ghatam, drums, bells, Singing Saw…
In November 1999, the Swiss musician Reto Weber visited Panart Ltd, showed his art of playing Ghatam and dreamed of a sounding pot in steel with some notes to play with the hands. The main components were ready to be used: Two hemispheres in steel of high quality, one tuned to a scale, the other one without notes, fixed together- the HANG was born. Its convex body consists of a hardened steel that the Hang Makers originally developed for the construction of Steel Pans. On top of the Hang there is a central domed note called Ding surrounded by a circle of seven Tone Fields. The lower half shell has a round resonant opening (Gu). HANG means in the Bernese language hand, and so this new instrument is played with the hands.
The Hank Drum is a steel tongue drum made from a 20 gallon propane tank, invented by Dennis Havlena… Here is a link that will help you get started making your own.